Local man says e-cigarette charger exploded on him, caught on fire

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NEW ORLEANS - Just days ago, video of a man's pocket catching on fire in a store went viral.

It happened when his e-cigarette battery exploded. Now it's happened to a local man, who had never seen that video, and he says he, and his friends, barely escaped injury.

Chef Casey Giardina, 28, and his friends had returned home after a weekend crawfish boil when he took out his e-cigarette to vape.

"It exploded and took off in my hand just like a bottle rocket or a roman candle," said Giardina.

It took off, ricocheting from his hand to ceiling, from wall to wall, landing on the floor, burning everything thing it hit. His friends hit the floor.

"I look down and there's two people ducking. One's under the thing. "I should be at Touro in ICU right about now, because I saw what it did and if that was my, if that was my mouth, that would have been, that would have been it, " he remembers.

So he grabbed the red, hot, glowing battery in a towel and ran outside on the balcony and then threw it out on to the street. The heat burned holes completely through the towel.

"I would say cheap chargers can simply, just randomly, have catastrophic failures but very, very rarely," explained Brendan Frost of Crescent City Vape.

At Crescent City Vape they say more expensive chargers are usually safer. They stop charging when the battery is full, unlike Casey's.  And they stopped selling the Efest brand battery that exploded in Casey's hand.

"Efest in particular in the last couple of months has been shown that their tests on their batteries do not match up with the specifications they claim," said Frost.

Workers there say they educate users to also never use a battery with a broken wrap because if it touches metal, it will cause a fire. And batteries should always be carried in a case. If metal, like keys in your pocket, touches both ends, that will start a fire. For now, Casey has quit.

"I could never, I'm done. I'm just cold turkey. No more," said Giardina.

Crescent City Vape says in the last eight years there have read about two dozen reports of battery fires. They believe most are linked to inferior chargers.

And the Efest website has a warning page about causes of battery problems. 

http://www.efestpower.com/index.php?ac=article&at=list&tid=129

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